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Semin Immunol. 2004 Jun;16(3):205-12.

Lessons from the study of T-cell differentiation in persistent human virus infection.

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  • 1MRC Human Immunology Unit, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford OX3 9DS, UK.


Confusion surrounds the current classification of memory and effector T-cell subsets and there is a lack of consistency in the use of these terms between human and murine studies. The development of peptide-HLA tetrameric complexes ("tetramers") that accurately identify virus-specific T cells and can be used with a range of cell surface and intra-cellular markers has provided further insights in our understanding of the process of T-cell differentiation, or post-thymic development. We propose that T-cell differentiation subsets in human viral infection should be regarded as distinct from the current definitions of memory and effector cells; further work is needed to reveal the role of the differentiation process in anti-viral immunity.

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